History of the American Fighter Ace: Spanish Civil War
By Bill Hess with expanded text by Bill Martin
The next opportunity for American fighter pilots to enter into combat came in the mid-1930s during the Spanish Civil War.
In 1937 a number of pilots from the US cast their lot with the Loyalist forces and did battle in the air with the Nationalists forces and the German Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion that abetted their cause.
One American became a fighter Ace in that conflict. Frank Tinker downed eight aircraft and Albert J. “Ajax” Baumler was credited with four. Baumler went on to score another four victories flying with the 23rd Fighter Group in China in World War II.
During the same period in China, three Chinese-Americans became aces flying for Chiang kai-shek against the Japanese – Shui-Tin “Art” Chen, Pan-Yang “John” Wong and Sun-Shui “Buffalo” Wong.